Take a Hill Country day-cation to Buda, Texas.
By Lydia Gregovic, Photos courtesy of the Buda Chamber of Commerce
With it’s wide-open spaces, mom-and-pop restaurants and small-town charm, Buda, Texas, invites visitors to take a lesson from its town motto and “breathe easy here.” Located just 20 minutes south of downtown Austin, or “North Buda”, as locals call it, the town offers all the appeal of a Hill Country getaway without a lengthy drive.
If you’re not sure where to begin, look no further than our itinerary, packed with the best must-do activities in Buda.
Start your day off right with a Buda-style breakfast, courtesy of Helen’s Casa Alde. A favorite among locals, this family-owned business has been serving up authentic Mexican eats since the 1980s. Helen’s serves everything from enchiladas to chicken-fried steak, but the restaurant’s crowning glory are its famous breakfast tacos, served all day. With handmade tortillas and fresh ingredients in every taco, you can’t go wrong, but if you want our advice, try the carne asada taco, loaded with perfectly grilled marinated steak.
After filling up at Helen’s, burn off some energy by exploring one of Buda’s 13 parks. For those in search of outdoor adventure, the historic Stagecoach Park offers 51 acres of open parkland and dozens of hiking and biking trails. Whether you’re in the mood for a slow nature stroll or a high-intensity workout, the park caters to outdoorsmen (and women) at every level. And when the Christmas season rolls around, head to the park in the evening for a glimpse of the town’s famous Trail of Lights, a less-crowded alternative to the famous Austin event.
When you’ve biked to your heart’s content, take a lunch break and recharge at popular barbecue spot Willie’s Joint. Located within walking distance of Stagecoach Park, Willie’s features live music, lawn games and a shady outdoor patio perfect for lounging away those long afternoon hours. Although Willie’s is famous for traditional barbeque dishes, such as its St. Louis pork ribs, regulars rave about the vegetarian jalapeño mac and cheese.
To get your shopping fix in, take a stroll down Buda’s boutique-lined Main Street. Hit up three stores in one by stopping in Shops on Main, a mega-boutique where Red Door, Little Blue Bird and Old Main Street Station are housed under one roof. Or walk a little farther and visit Thatcher, a woman-owned neighborhood shop, where you’ll find beautifully designed household goods. If you’re feeling particularly brave, don’t miss the allegedly haunted Old Town Buda Antique Mall, filled with three stories of one-of-a-kind treasures.
Take a quick snack break at the Buda Drug Store, touted as a must-see spot by locals. Half pharmacy, half old-fashioned soda shop, this adorable shop is straight out of the 1950s. Featuring vintage candies, award-winning pies from the Texas Pie Company and, of course, plenty of root-beer floats, the drug store is bound to give you a sugar rush in the best possible way.
Head back toward Main Street, where you’ll find an array of local restaurants serving up all kinds of cuisine. A newcomer to Buda, Main Street Pizzeria and Beer Garden specializes in brick-oven pizza and craft beer, and despite its youth, this trendy spot is already a hit with residents. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, walk down the street to Brooklyn’s Down South, featuring luxurious leather booths and 100-year-old wood floors. Brooklyn’s describes its food as “Southern style,” and offers everything from Tex-Mex to Cajun to barbeque. But the highlight of Brooklyn’s are its burgers, such as the buffalo burger, loaded with spicy tasso ham, onions, pepper-jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on a toasted jalapeño-cheddar bun.
Finish off your trip by stopping for a drink at Nate’s, a coffee-and-cocktail bar located in the newly opened Buda Mill & Grain. With its relaxed atmosphere and live music, Nate’s is the perfect place to wind down. Try one of its many craft beers, or take a chance on a handcrafted cocktail, like the Main Street Smash, a delicious mix of Deep Eddy Vodka, fresh lemon, cucumber, mint and St. Germain.